Landmines continue to impede resettlement in Jaffna
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 18 November 2003, 18:44 GMT]
Many parts of Jaffna still remain unsuitable for resettlement and human habitation due to landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), according to statistics gathered by Sri Lankan government officials in the northern peninsula. The officials told TamilNet Tuesday that of the 1179953 square metres in Jaffna considered infested with landmines and UXOs, only 260168 sq. metres have been cleared so far since 1997.
They said that about 973785 sq. metres in Jaffna are infested with lethal landmines and UXOs.
The officials said that the tardy pace and delay in removing landmines and UXOs in Jaffna is largely due to the dearth of local expertise and the difficulty in obtaining the locations of minefields from the Sri Lanka army (SLA).
The Danish De-mining Group stopped its operations in the coastal village of Katkovalam in Jaffna last week after the army objected to its work there.
The officials said that the SLA has removed landmines around the Navatkuly Bridge, in Vallai, the environs of the Vallipuram Temple, Araaly and Ilavaalai. The total area in the peninsula that the SLA has cleared of landmines is 28636 sq. metres.
The US army backed RONCO cleared 78169 sq. metres and the UNDP assisted MineTech cleared 65943 sq. metres, officials said.
The Halo Trust, an international NGO, removed mines and UXOs from 33420 sq. metres mostly in Chavakachcheri, Ariyalai and Kopay.